Federal Statistical System Updates January 2018

.. sharing updates on developments about and within the Federal Statistical System (http://proximityone.com/fss.htm). Today I attended a briefing by Nancy Potok, U.S. Chief Statistician (part of OMB OIRA) at the American Statistical Association offices. The session was coordinated by the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics (COPAFS).

Several topics were discussed, including:

1. Will the Federal government shutdown on January 19, 2018, due to a budget impasse? As of now, there seems to be a 50-50 consensus likelihood.

2. In the spring of 2018, there might be a far-reaching Federal government reorganization plan released by OMB. While there are no details on this, it may well be that certain Federal statistical agencies will be reorganized. This follows more than a year of processing recommendations suggested by individual agencies. Right now, it is not clear if this will be focused on Federal statistical and information-related operations or something broader.

3. It is expected that the 2018 Federal budget, thus including the 13 primary Federal statistical agencies, will be released in early February. Much of the 2019 Federal budget is also completed, though many important details remain.

4. The widely publicized possible addition of a citizenship question to 2020 census questionnaire was discussed. OMB approves the addition or deletion of all questions on Federal government information collection forms. See USATODAY editorial comments today, consistent with my opinion. The merit to the argument to add the citizenship question, if there is one, is that while block group level tabulations of citizenship status from the American Community Survey are available and updated annually, these are subject to sampling error and other errors of estimation, they are not tabulated at the census block level, they are estimates for respondents over a five year period, and they will lag the 2020 census data (first release March 31, 2021) with ACS 2018 estimates (centric to mid-2016) released in December 2020. Key facts are that 1) at there is no Federal government agency requirement for citizenship by block data, 2) a citizenship question definitely imperil the quality of the Census 2020 results, 3) block group level data are sufficient for any reasonable need, 4) the cost of adding the question would be huge in an already underfunded census.

Next Federal Statistical System Updates
The next planned Federal Statistical System update will be in March followed by an update in April. We might move to a recurring monthly update.

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About the Author
— Warren Glimpse is former senior Census Bureau statistician responsible for innovative data access and use operations. He is also the former associate director of the U.S. Office of Federal Statistical Policy and Standards for data access and use. He has more than 20 years of experience in the private sector developing data resources and tools for integration and analysis of geographic, demographic, economic and business data. Contact Warren. Join Warren on LinkedIn.

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